Monthly Archives: June 2015

It’s time to make way for a sharing economy

It is rare that New York State moves to pass legislation that would have an immediate and positive impact on the Hudson Valley economy. It is even rarer that the bill would not cost taxpayers a penny and has bipartisan support in both houses. Fortunately, such a piece of legislation (A.6090/S.4280) exists and is supported by a number of organizations, including The Business Council of New York State. This particular piece of legislation, which would help regulate the growing “sharing economy,” specifically as it pertains to automobiles and insurance companies, should be passed before the end of the year.

The “sharing economy” is perhaps best exemplified by companies like Lyft and Uber, but there are a whole host of businesses just waiting for New York State to give them the regulatory tools necessary to open up shop. Passing this legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Cahill, would give New Yorkers the services they want while at the same time giving insurance companies the assurances they need.

Anyone who has lived and traveled in cities like Poughkeepsie, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo knows that the current transit options are woefully inadequate. The lack of consistently reliable public transportation stifles economic development and leaves visitors with a negative impression of our communities and our state.

Ride sharing and other “collaborative consumption” innovations have several benefits to consumers and the economy as a whole. The utilization of underused assets allows ride-sharers to spend less money and moves more people with fewer vehicles. Ride-sharing saves resources, energy and physical space.

The growth of the “sharing economy” is indisputable. A recent report in Forbes Magazine estimated that the revenue flowing through the “sharing economy” surpassed $3.5 billion, with growth expectations that exceeded 25 percent. New York should be at the forefront in encouraging new economic models in a safe and responsible manner. By requiring that group policy insurance be in place for vehicles taking part in ride sharing, the Cahill bill provides a balanced approach to the necessary protections for consumers, insurers and the public at large.

New York has a history of leading the nation when it comes to adopting legislative policies that affect real change in the way we all live and work. Unfortunately, when it comes to the so-called “new economy”, New York’s policies are falling woefully behind. It is time for the Empire State to show true leadership and allow its citizens to take advantage of the benefits technology is affording us all.

Heather C. Briccetti Esq.
President and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc.

*a version of this OpEd ran in the Poughkeepsie Journal on 6/17/15

Assembly clarifies SLA authority

Earlier today, the New York State Assembly passed A.5920. The legislation, supported by The Business Council, clarifies the State Liquor Authority’s (SLA) ability to penalize licensees in certain situations.

The bill, born out of dispute between a Capital Region retailer and the SLA, would clarify the SLA’s legal authority in enforcing the laws of another state. More specifically, it would remove the ambiguity that exists in current law and end the perception of selective enforcement.

The alcohol industry remains a vital and growing part of the New York State economy, providing tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. A predictable regulatory environment will help ensure this important industry remains strong and continues to experience the growth we have seen in recent years.

We applaud the state Assembly for passing this legislation and encourage the state Senate to do the same.

Rochester tops summer jobs list

How about this for some great news? Forbes magazine is out with an article today highlighting a recent survey by the ManpowerGroup that finds that Rochester, NY has the best job outlook of any U.S. city this summer.

Overall, the study found that employment opportunities are improving nationwide. According to the Manpower Group survey and Forbes, the net employment outlook is 16%, which is an improvement of 2 percentage points from the same point last year.

Getting to Rochester specifically, the state’s third largest city has a net employment outlook of 35%. Forbes spoke directly with Bob Duffy, the former Lieutenant Governor and current CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance, to find out why things are looking up in Rochester.

“According to Duffy, the precision manufacturing industry in Rochester is particularly strong at the moment with companies like Gleason, a machine tool builder, adding employees. Kodak is also on the upswing. Plus Rochester has its share of growing startups. One, data backup and recovery outfit Datto, has plans to have 100 Rochester-based employees by October. The call center company Sutherland is also expanding—so quickly, in fact, that it cannot build new buildings fast enough to house all the new workers that it wants to hire, Duffy says. “We have the highest per capita concentration of patents in the United States and 19 colleges and universities that contribute tremendous brainpower,” he says.”

Rounding out the rest of the list are: Nashville, TN; Provo, UT; and Tucson, AZ.

New study touts benefit of Indian Point

The National Energy Institute (NEI) is out with a new study, released today, that highlights the financial impact of the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County.

According to the NEI’s study, which can be downloaded here, Indian Point pumps $1.6 billion into the state’s economy each year. The same study says the plant contributes an additional $900 million to the nation’s economy.

From the study:

“Indian Point’s annual spending creates a huge ripple effect in the state and nationwide: The facility’s operation generates $1.3 billion of annual economic output in the local counties, $1.6 billion statewide and $2.5 billion across the United States. The study finds that for every dollar of output from Indian Point, the local economy produces $1.27, the state economy produces $1.55 and the U.S. economy produces $2.48.

Entergy provides higher-than-average wages at Indian Point: Entergy directly employs approximately 1,000 people at Indian Point. Because they are technical in nature, these jobs typically are higher-paying. This direct employment leads to another 2,800 indirect jobs in surrounding counties and 1,600 in other industries in New York for a total 5,400 jobs in-state. There are an additional 5,300 indirect jobs outside the state for a total of 10,700 jobs throughout the United States.”

The Business Council of New York State, Inc., supports the continued operations of Indian Point, which is essential to the New York State economy. This electrical generation facility provides 2,069 megawatts of baseload power to New York’s electrical grid every single day. Indian Point accounts for up to 11 percent of the power used statewide and 25 percent of the power in both Westchester County and New York City.

Major milestone for P-TECH

The Business Council has been a huge supporter of specialized schools under the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program. Our work with the program began back in December 2012 when we, along with IBM and the State Education Department, co-hosted a meeting for potential partners. These innovative grade 9-14 schools combine academics, workplace learning and mentoring, and have been championed by everyone from Governor Cuomo to President Obama. In fact, President Obama even mentioned Brooklyn P-TECH in his 2013 State of the Union address. And now, six students who completed the program in only four years, are on the cusp of graduating.

P-TECH Brooklyn is the flagship school that spurred the state’s P-TECH program. A partnership between IBM (a Business Council member), the New York City Department of Education, the City University of New York and City Tech, the school allows students to graduate with a high school diploma and associate degree in applied science in computer systems technology or electromechanical engineering technology. Students are then given an opportunity to be first in line for jobs at IBM.

The NY Daily News wrote a great article about this year’s first crop of graduates. We were particularly struck by this passage: The students are the first group to graduate from P-TECH with a high school degree and an associate’s degree. That includes Gabriel Rosa, who applied to P-TECH on a whim. “Being able to handle a lot of work is definitely a skill I’ve gained,” Rosa said. “If I wasn’t in P-TECH, I’m not sure where I’d be.”

Read more about the students here and here.